Mention the Rolex Swan Cup to any sailor and the feelings evoked are common – great competition in an enviable environment, a prevailing spirit of fair play and an opportunity to sail yachts renowned for their grace, enduring appeal and rich heritage. 

Fact: The Rolex Swan Cup was first held in 1980. A biennial event, 2018 marks the 20th edition.

The partnership between Rolex, Nautor’s Swan and organizers the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda will celebrate its 35th anniversary in 2019. It is one of the sporting world’s longest lasting and most successful relationships. Elegance, precision, innovation, a respect for tradition and excellence unite all of the event’s partners. “The Rolex Swan Cup is one of the iconic regattas in the world. It is rewarding to see how it continues to build and consolidate event after event,” says Leonardo Ferragamo, Chairman of Nautor’s Swan, and a longtime Swan owner and sailor. 

Fact: The partnership between Rolex, the YCCS and Nautor’s Swan is one of the longest in the sport and is a bond between like minds.

There are no other similar partnerships in the sport of yachting that can claim either the longevity or the symbiosis that characterizes the relationship between Rolex and Nautor’s Swan. Swan yachts are designed to perform in the most rugged of marine environments. So too is the Rolex Oyster. Rolex timepieces are regarded as enduring statements of excellence and prestige; the same is true of Swan yachts. Both companies pay close attention to the smallest detail to ensure perfection in their finished product. 

Fact: A record 125 yachts from 20 countries took part in the last edition of the Rolex Swan Cup.


The year 2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first Swan. When he founded Nautor’s Swan in 1966 in Pietarsaari, Finland, Pekka Koskenkyla was motivated by his ambition to build high-quality, high-performance sailing yachts anchored in hundreds of years of Finnish boatbuilding history. Since then, Nautor’s Swan has produced more than a hundred different models of Swans, from the first design that measured some 11 metres (36 feet) all the way through to 39.9 metres (131 feet). Few, if any, boat builders have been at the forefront of their industry for such a long time, which makes Swan yachts a true benchmark. All Swans carry the emblematic and unmistakable ‘arrow’ – indented in every hull – a sign so iconic that the brand name is not needed to identify the yacht afloat.

Fact:  Launched to celebrate fifty years, the one-design ClubSwan 50 is defined by its distinct hull shape and racing pedigree.


The first Swan built was the 36-foot Tarantella, launched in July 1967. That she, and several other Classic designs, are still racing and regularly feature at the Rolex Swan Cup, is proof of their endurance, reliability and how lovingly they have been maintained. Tarantella introduced a number of genuine innovations for her time, several of which were aimed at improving steering stability, including positioning the rudder fully aft, separating it from the full length of the keel and thickening the aft section of the keel. The Swan 36 proved equal to more traditional wooden boats in general handling and safety, but outshone them with better performance under sail and improved living space. 

Fact: Sayula II, a Swan 65, was the first winner of the first Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973/74 and is expected to race at the 20th edition of the Rolex Swan Cup.


Tarantella was drawn by the first Swan designer – the New York studio, Sparkman & Stephens. Prior to this, nobody had built a series-production boat over ten metres long in fibreglass. The material was then still relatively new to yacht building, but would dominate the mass production of boats in years to come. 

New Zealander Ron Holland took over the design reins from 1978 to 1981, before the Frers family, headed by the legendary German Frers Senior, began its long dynasty, which continues today.

Most recently, Nautor’s Swan has launched a line of yachts dedicated to racing under the ClubSwan brand. The ClubSwan 50, launched in 2017, was the first such design, and was drawn by another legendary naval architect, Juan Kouyoumdjian.

Fact: Between 1966 and 1978, Sparkman & Stephens was responsible for the majority of the first 1,000 Swans built.

The Swan yachts competing at the Rolex Swan Cup in Porto Cervo in 2018 will be divided into several classes depending upon their length and age. The more modern designs will be split into Maxi (18.29 metres and above) and Grand Prix (18.28 metres and below). Designs by Sparkman and Stephens are expected to have their own class, while the Swan One Design classes ClubSwan 42, Swan 45 and ClubSwan 50 will compete for their own championships. 

Competition comprises five days of racing in northeast Sardinia’s emerald waters and rocky outcrops, as well as a host of social events designed to bring the Swan world together.  The atmosphere will be friendly and sporting; both owners and crew enjoy being together, racing and sharing experiences. This passion for yachting and the event’s Corinthian spirit are sentiments embraced wholeheartedly by Rolex. And, at the final prize giving, in time-honoured tradition the victors will be rewarded with a Rolex timepiece in recognition of their achievement.

Fact: The first winner of the Rolex Swan Cup was Black Tie from Italy, a Swan 39 designed by Ron Holland.


Virginie Chevailler
Rolex SA
+41 22 302 26 19

Giles Pearman
+41 79 763 37 34


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